I was lucky to be able to spend the last year at Ronin MMA in Ottawa and Club De Judo Ginkgo over in Gatineau, Quebec.
This round at Ronin MMA was not my first. I had actually been down for four months last summer. I was there for the same reason as I was all this year; a co-op job with DND. The club was a departure from those I had been at in the past. It was far, far more informal, and unapoligetically so. People rolled hard there. Everyone was tough.
I'll be the first to say that I didn't do well making friends on my first visit. I was pretty shy, and surprised by my new surroundings. I was there for four months. I'm sure I made something of an impact; but not a great one. I was certainly a familiar face when I returned, but I was no-ones BJJ-BFF.
|Mon Petit Singe!|
That all changed across the course of this year. I lightened up a lot during it, learned how to interact with this gang of characters. I learned that if Big D is running the warm up and starts dancing to "Da Rockwilder" it is obligatory to follow suit.
|Who could say no anyways?|
This year, I made some fantastic friends. The individuals and the tribe itself are a thing that I will not forget.
At Ronin, it really is OK to have fun. It's very informal, and a bit of a boy's club; you gotta get in, prove that you've got nothing to prove, be humble, and roll smart. If you manage to do this and have fun, you're golden. Bonus points if you make fun of "Beyonce Hips."
There are so many stories to tell and so many people to thank that I don't think its fair for me to say them here. I would forget too many people. I'll save these memories for future stories. Just let me say that the experience has changed me, that I'll do my best to visit, and always keep a picture of Frodo close to my heart.
I also had to say goodbye to another interesting institution this month. My Judo odyssey came to an end. I found out about Club De Judo Ginkgo from word of mouth. I had wanted to try my luck at Judo for a while, when a conversation with Big D brought this club to light. I couldn't find any club that had good training days that didn't interfere with the days I wanted to do BJJ. I was very lucky to have found out about Ginkgo... I don't think any other set up would have worked out as well. The club had just recently been started. As such, they didn't have a crazy number of people. This was probably best under my circumstances. The ground is my forte, but I wanted to learn judo. I needed to be in an environment where a BJJ person is seen as useful, not as a threat to be destroyed. I'd be lying if I said I was not at all worried about this.
The Ginkgo people took me in and did their level best to teach me. I learned a lot. I really did. For this I am grateful. More importantly, I also made another group of friends.
I think that this may be what all this BJJ/Judo stuff is all about; having fun, making friends, and trying to choke them good. I was lucky this year: I had a lot of fun with two groups of awesome people. That's really what counts. I'm sad to be in a position where I have to leave every few months, but I am incredibly fortunate and happy to have experienced it.
My next stop will take me back to Hamilton ON. Here I'll train with Pura BJJ. I'll be here for 4 to 6 months...then I'll be leaving again...